Monday, March 21, 2005

SXSW Recap

Thumbs up:

1) I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness - an Austin 3 piece band that is scary good. And the best name in the industry.
2) Rudy's Barbeque - found in various gas stations in Austin, it's a hell of a step up from a McDonalds in a travel plaza `round here.
3) The Dears - the brunette in the band is wicked cute. Then again, meesa a sucka for Francais-Canadiennes.
4) The Salt Lick - all you can eat barbeque south of Austin. Three days later, and I'm still stuffed.
5) Apollo Sunshine - blew my mind
6) Trashcan Sinatras - heheheheheheheh
7) Of Montreal - didn't get a chance to hear them play, but they're really nice folks, and way too young to worship the Beatles so.
8) Gumbo's - restaurant in Red Rock that certainly doesn't suck
9) The Doves - why they aren't bigger will mystify...mystify me. (sorry, channelled INXS there)

Thumbs down -
1) Fry's Electronics in Texas aren't nearly as junk-filled as Fry's in California, and I like the junk.
2) Buck and Stretch - two mini-wiener dogs who treat every rug like a litter box.
3) The line @ Stubb's - all I wanted was Stubbs' BBQ, and a two-hour wait in the midafternoon is a little brutal.
4) Aimee Mann - gee, could you be a LITTLE more full of anger towards your audience? I mean, you're talented, but you ain't THAT talented
5) Austin East Side - why is it that most cities' east sides are the lousy sides??? Pick a city - Baltimore, DC, Des Moines, St. Louis, Denver, LA - the East Side is all nasty, and the West Side is nice. I don't get that.
6) The seven-person after-hours party. Wow. Contain the crowd.
7) Hipsters hipsters hipsters - really, be honest, how excited can you *REALLY* get to see a female Japanese bluegrass duo? And I don't mean sheer novelty value aside. There were hipsters who were legitimate fans of this crap. American bluegrass sucks enough; slap a Japanese girl in place of Earl Scruggs, and it don't get no better.

They were cute, though.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Austin Rocks and Rolls

Came down to Texas' capital city to see me some rock and roll. Have only seen a bunch of power pop so far, but hey...week ain't over.

Have seen Kevin Hearn and the Thin Buckle (he's the dude from Barenaked Ladies) and hung out with him until the wee hours. Saw Duncan Shiek, and gave him crap for fookin' up Oasis lyrics. He's short. Nice as hell, though. Saw the Ocean Blue. They're still good, still slightly aloof. That was day one.

Yesterday was The Marbles (a.k.a. Apples in Stereo guy Robert Schnieder) and he's funny. Hung out in line with Of Montreal (they're so much younger than I expected) and talked about the aforementioned Robert with them. Saw the Trashcan Sinatras at point-blank range. Had a beer (or two) with them. Saw Clem Snide, who do a good combo of and alt.rock, and I saw The Dears, a Canadian band who have a lot of buzz and a great sound.

But was frickin' blown away by Apollo Sunshine. Four guys from Boston, multi-instrumentalists, swap musical styles like Oprah swaps clothing sizes, and they completely rocked the house. Lots of hipsters were there to see Clem; couldn't believe Apollo Sunshine. I talked to the lead singer en route to the pissers. Told him that was the best set I'd see so far, and he was actually geniunely touched, saying "But there are so many other great bands here, that means a lot. Thanks!"


Not only do they rock, but they get *it* - and that's something else.

- me

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

utterly random minor celebrity sighting

So, I am in Northern Virginia the other day, and, as is par for the course, I got wicked hungry. I decided to try one of those new mandarin orange/chicken salads at Wendys. I picked a relatively inauspicious location right off US 50 and 495.

I walk in and face a fairly sizable lunchtime crush. Unlike most fast food establishments, there was a crush of women in line, most with digital cameras or waving their picture phones around like Charlie running through the village with his Golden Ticket.

They were aiming their devices at a white guy behind the counter. While considering most fast food establishments in Northern Virginia have more racial diversity than a Bennetton ad, but fewer white folks than a gangsta rap label, I too was shocked to see a honkey. This honkey was different, though - he had spiky hair, and a goofy smile. He looked rather out of place amongst the typical Wendy's crew. Manager trainee, perhaps? Corporate partner visiting the unwashed masses? A trim, 6-foot tall white guy in a sea of spanish-speaking immigrants - dude stuck out like Yao Ming in day care.

I asked one of NoVA's typical women - mid-30s, overstyled hair, a mamma can wedged into sorority girl pants, snotty attitude - who is that guy? She looked at me, and in a voice that's a combination of Fran Drescher and a Valley Girl (and any guy in the metro area knows she's not the only one with that voice), says "You know what? That's Bill Rancic." I said "Oh, ok..." She cut me off "You know? The first season winner of the Apprentice?" She breathed in that disgusted manner endemic to snotty bitches all over the globe, and finished with "He's so handsome." Several other women like her nodded in agreement, and immediately synchronized their cycles.

Now, Bill Rancic won the Apprentice, and he gets to hang with Donald Trump. He was on a tv show, made some good coin doing it, and is now working at a Wendy's. Well, the dude who played Oswald on The Drew Carey Show was on TV, made some good coin doing it, and might be working at a Whattaburger on the Sunset Strip for all we know. Oswald, though, has had a relatively decent career in commercials, movies (Office Space, baby!) and a few other guest spots on TV shows. He has residuals to fall back on. Bill Rancic is now handing out Bacon Cheddar Classics and Frostys in Virginia.

As luck would have it, as I waited in line, I just happened to end up in Billy Boy's line. He's a tall guy, and his spiky 'do adds a couple of inches. Gray suit jacket, unbuttoned collar on a white shirt. Big smile, really trim, and he took my order. Seeing as how all these women were ovulating in his presence, I knew I had to take my chance. I had to show these women that the cult of celebrity is not worth worshipping. I had to stand up for those of us men without a reality show to boost our fame and exposure. I looked him dead in the eye, and said "Man, I knew the job market was tough, but couldn't they have made you an assistant manager, or something? You coulda called, I'd get you an interview somewhere, sheesh..."

Zinger, baby. Zinger.

He laughed, and not entirely in that fake Hollywood way, either. He said "No, it's not that bad. We're filming a commercial here today. What would you like for lunch?"

I then noticed the BIG cameras. I meekly ordered the orange chicken salad thingy. I'd have felt weird ordering a burger and fries in front of the Apprentice. Wouldn't want him to get on the hotline to the Trump - "I have the smartass targeted, sir...No, he ordered the burger and fries... He didn't biggie size it, though. What's that, kill him anyway? Yes sir. Rancic out."

He turned to get my diet soda, and his handler said to him "That actually was pretty funny" and Bill said "yeah, that was. Funny." in two sentences, fully secured my lid on the soda, a rarity in any establishment, and processed my order correctly, succinctly and efficiently. He smiled as he gave me my meal, and told me to have a nice day. I thanked him, and wished him luck avoiding the throng of NoVA career women. He laughed again, and processed the next person's order, correctly, succinctly and efficiently.

I gave him a 100% for service on my comment card, but commented that he was out of uniform.

- me